Climate Wars, Part 1 - 3 (Listen)

Global warming is moving much more quickly than scientists thought it would. Even if the biggest current and prospective emitters - the United States, China and India - were to slam on the brakes today, the earth would continue to heat up for decades. At best, we may be able to slow things down and deal with the consequences, without social and political breakdown. Gwynne Dyer examines several radical short-and medium-term measures now being considered - all of them controversial.

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Program Excerpt

About 2 years ago I noticed that the military in various countries, and especially in the Pentagon, were beginning to take climate change seriously. Now, it's the business of the military to find new security threats. It's also in their own self-interest, since they need a constant supply of threats in order to justify their demands on the taxpayers' money, so you should always take the new threats that the soldiers discover with a grain of salt. You know, never ask the barber whether you need a haircut.

But I did start to look into this idea that global warming could lead to wars. It turned into a year-long trek talking to scientists, soldiers and politicians in a dozen different countries. I have come back from that trip seriously worried, and there are four things I learned that I think you ought to know.

The first is that a lot of the scientists who study climate change are in a state of suppressed panic these days. Things seem to be moving much faster than their models predicted.

The second thing is that the military strategists are right. Global warming is going to cause wars, because some countries will suffer a lot more than others. That will make dealing with the global problem of climate change a lot harder.

The third is that we are probably not going to meet the deadlines. The world's countries will probably not cut their greenhouse gas emissions enough, in time, to keep the warming from going past 2 degrees celsius. That is very serious.

And the fourth thing is that it may be possible to cheat on the deadlines. I think we will need a way to cheat, at least for a while, in order to avoid a global disaster.

That's what this series is going to deal with, and we'll be lucky if we get through it all in 3 episodes. But I'm going to start by giving you an example of what that global disaster might look like, and the best way to do that is with a scenario. This is NOT a prediction of what the future will look like, because there are far too many variables and sheer unknowns to predict the world of, say, 2046. It's just a plausible example of what 2046 could look like if we get it wrong over the next ten or fifteen years.

- Gwynne Dyer

Books and Related Websites

Earth Policy Institute

Lester Brown: Outgrowing the Earth: The Food Security Challenge in an Age of Falling Water Tables and Rising Temperatures

Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
John P. Holdren : The Energy Innovation Imperative

Brookings Institute
- Nigel Purvis' research focuses on how U.S. foreign policy can protect the earth's climate and promote sustainable development of its natural resources.
- Geopolitics of Energy: from security to survival.

Worldwatch Institute
Energy & Climate Change (Worldwatch Institute)

CNA Corporation
- Sherri W. Goodman and Paul J. Kern
- National Security and the Threat of Climate Change

National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado
John Latham - proposed geo-engineering technique for global warming mitigation.

The Earth Institute at Columbia University

Carbon Sequestration Could Be Employed Today To Help Alleviate Greenhouse Emissions

First Successful Demonstration of Carbon Dioxide Air Capture Technology Achieved by Columbia University Scientist and Private Company

Abstract of "Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim?" by
James Hansen, Makiko Sato, Pushker Kharecha, David Beerling, Valerie
Masson-Delmotte, Mark Pagani, Maureen Raymo, Dana L. Royer and James C.Zachos
; Submitted by James Hansen.

Global Warming, by Holli Riebeek, design by Robert Simmon, May 11, 2007.

NASA'S Earth Observatory is a useful and regularly updated site.

Treehugger has information on Planktos, the company that proposed seeding the ocean with iron particles. Planktos itself seems to have disappeared. However, Climos seems to have taken over from them.

Rocky Mountain Institute, " ® (RMI) is a nonprofit organization that fosters the efficient and restorative use of resources so that companies, governments and organizations are more efficient, make more money and do less harm to the environment."


York Centre for International and Security Studies
Robert Latham - Global Security

Their plan is to sequester CO2 from production and pump it underground. Surprisingly this also increases production! So not only are they helping fight climate change by sinking CO2 into the ground they're speeding it up by producing more oil for us to consume.

Canadian Institute for Climate Studies, University of Victoria , Victoria, BC.

Thomas Homer-Dixon Climate Change, the Arctic, and Canada: Avoiding Yesterday's Analysis of Tomorrow's Crisis, and Steven Bernstein et al., A Globally Integrated Climate Policy for Canada (University of Toronto Press, 2008.


Centre for European Policy

European Climate Forum

Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany. Paul J. Crutzen - Nobel Laureate.

DCDC Global Strategic Trends Programme 2007-2036, Third Edition, pp. 26-28. Ministry of Defence, London. Ministry of Defence, DCDC, Shrivenham, SWINDON, United Kingdom.


Climate Change in Australia
In 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their fourth assessment report, concluding that:

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal.
Humans are very likely to be causing most of the warming that has been experienced since 1950.
It is very likely that changes in the global climate system will continue well into the future, and that they will be larger than those seen in the recent past.


The Revenge of Gaia, by James Lovelock, published by Allen Lane, the Penguin Group, London, 2006.

Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, by James Lovelock, Oxford University Press, 1995.

Climate Code Red, the case for emergency action, by David Spratt & Philip Sutton, Scribe Publications, Australia.

Heat: How We Can Stop the Planet Burning, by George Monbiot, Penguin Books, London, 2007.

Under a Green Sky, by Peter D. Ward, Smithsonian Books, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2007.

Global Warming and Agriculture: Impact Estimates by Country, by William R. Cline, Center for Global Development, Peterson Institute for International Economics, Washington, 2007.

The Weather Makers: How we are changing the climate and what it means for Life on Earth, by Tim Flannery, HarperCollins, 2006.

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